Are Cyber-Friends Real Friends?

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A lot has been said, lately, about simulated sorta-friendships on the Internet and social media taking the place of real, face-to-face friendships, to the detriment of society. As someone in a Pogo Games chat room once said, “But we’re only Pogo people!” It was a true cri de couer, even if I still can’t explain exactly what she meant.

As a thought experiment, let me remove all the “cyber-friends” (for want of a better word) from my life and see what’s left.

Family? Well, almost everybody’s dead. Those who are left have all moved far away from here, and we see them only on special occasions.

Old friends? Well, I hung on to those longer than most–but in all honesty, my boon companions, my bosom buddies, are not really the most wholesome company for the Christian that I want to be.

My wife is, of course, my best friend, and we are inseparable. But apart from her, if you take away my friends that I’ve made here on this blog, in the course of my work for Chalcedon, and on Pogo–well, there’s hardly anything left. For some people, online friendship is what’s on the menu.

But I don’t feel deprived. I’ve met wonderful people from all over the country, even from other countries, met them here and in my Chalcedon work, here and there and elsewhere–and I have grown quite fond of them. (That means some of you who are reading this: you know who you are.) I profit from my exchanges with them. I draw emotional support from you all. I am thankful for you.

Because of course–of course!–“just Pogo people” are real people. Man, I know happily married couples who “met” in a Pogo game room! If I could travel, I’ve got invitations from all over. Some of you, I’d love nothing better than to sit down and have a cup of tea with you–maybe even sit outside on a nice day and have a cigar. I may never meet you in the flesh, but you are my friends and I treasure you.

All right, enough of the sappy talk. You all know what I mean.

Yeah, constant texting, etc., a narcissistic urge to have strangers know the moment-to-moment boring details of your life–obviously that’s not what I’m talking about. I know some of you have come to enjoy the little community that’s growing up right here on this blog.

So, yes, we are all, in our fashion, Pogo people! And deplorables, too. Ich bin ein Berliner!

Let us wear our badges proudly.

8 comments on “Are Cyber-Friends Real Friends?

  1. Lee, years ago and especially when I lived in Philadelphia I had several pen pals. Most of them were women that I “met” through Friendship Columns in Women’s Circle Magazine, Women’s World Crochet. In our letters we signed and exchanged Friendship Books which enabled more opportunities to “meet” new pen pals. I so enjoyed writing these letters to this new friends and learning about where they lived, how I could help them with issues if one had any, or exchanging post cards or crocheted State granny squares. Since moving to Crossville and being busy with settling in, I fell out of touch with most of my pen pals. Much of it because I couldn’t find my pen pal correspondence and addresses for a very long time. I did find it but many pen pals didn’t respond; perhaps they’ve passed away. I don’t know. I discovered facebook and, for me, it’s been a blessing. I don’t post everything on there but I’ve been able to reconnect with many old friends from school and former jobs. I’m back in touch with two of my best friends from elementary school. Besides this blog I also follow a couple others and comment on what’s posted. I’ve “met” new friends through this blog and the others that I wouldn’t have any other way. And I often feel like I’m among friends here at this blog. And thank you for this sappy post! I love it! It shows your heart for your readers! Have a blessed day, Lee.

    I haven’t been here much because of an urgent prayer need: Please pray for my 97-year-old mother-in-law, Ruth, who has been living with us for nearly three years now. She had gotten sick with pneumonia and we thought she was recovering but she’s at a hospice house now awaiting her translation into heaven to be with her Lord. Pray for a peaceful Home Going for her. And pray for my husband, Ralph because he has a lot to do regarding her passing. And thanks.

    1. I hope you don’t mind my putting this up in the form of a prayer request, Marge. In case people who would want to pray for you don’t see this comment.

  2. I think people crave friendship and companionship. I don’t have much chance to meet people ‘in real life’, but I have developed friendships online. One through Narnia fanfic; she lives in Wales. Another, through a knitting website; she lives in Ireland. I would never have met them if it weren’t for the internet, and I would definitely have missed out and been poorer for not meeting them!

  3. Lee,

    If you keep reading my mind, I’m going to have to start charging royalties. 🙂

    Seriously, in the last few days, I’ve been thinking about this very subject. I’ve been online in one capacity or another for 21 years now and used to participate in several forums. I’ve had some very deep conversations with people over the ‘net, via private messages on forums, etc. Over the years, some of those friendships have grown into face-to-face meetings and in some cases, playing some music together. Others folks just fizzled and disappeared.

    There are several people on this blog that have come to mean a great deal to me. I get a lot of bolstering from the people here. I have great admiration for several people I’ve met here. More than one one them has been mentioned in my prayers. When I see the goodness of others here and can see that these people are obviously doing their best to live up to being created in God’s image, I am both humbled and moved.

    Like yourself, my real world friendships are running dry. Most of my relatives have passed away and many of my old friends are no longer a regular part of my life. I wish it were different.

    I’m going to bring in a different perspective to all this. Matt. 24:12 says: “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” I think that online friendships may be popular because people in general have cooled off. I know that I am wary, because I’ve seen a lot of wolves in sheep’s clothing and I restrict my in-person relationships because I don’t want to be burned. Online friends are safer, in some aspects.

    Anyhow, my best to all of you here at Lee’s blog. You help me more than you might imagine.

  4. I, too, enjoy these online encounters because I find fellow believers in our Savior, because you are all bright, entertaining conversationalists, and I love having opportunity to share prayer requests. I am now living in a tiny village in Idaho where I have come to know only a few people; those who attend the same church I attend. They are mostly very friendly, lovable people, but actually, I do not get to fellowship with many of them at any length at all, due to certain circumstances and I have come to appreciate this interesting blog more and more recently. I have also made friends with one writer in particular who previously posted on NWV, and have corresponded with others occasionally.
    I have been on face book for a little over a year, but am becoming a bit disenchanted with that venue. It is giving me so much trouble and I keep getting friend requests from men all over the globe who state that they are either high ranking military or engineers, professors, etc. and they all post photos showing very good looking men who are a lot younger than I. It makes me wonder…The only good thing about face book is seeing members of my family who live at a distance.
    Here, on this blog, I feel perfectly safe, entertained and blessed.
    Blessings to all.

    1. Facebook scares me. The notion of “friending” and “unfriending” strikes me as childish, yet I can see the need to control those whom have access to certain information you post. Actually, that last sentence says it all. It’s the information that makes the danger. Some people post things online which should never be posted online. When it comes to the online world, privacy is a slippery concept.

      The friend requests you are strangely reminiscent. According to the online world, I am romantically irresistible to twenty-something women from for Soviet client states. 🙂 It’s obviously an attempt at pandering to the dreams of lonely people with intent to thereby profit.

      When you log onto a site, such as Facebook, your browsing history become accessible. This is used to establish a demographic profile. The sites I visit, news stories I choose to view, products I view online, etc. provide a fairly good description of the human using the computer.

      Websites “know” that I am a single male and know my approximate age. From the ads I see, it is obvious that they “know” I am single, “know that I live in the desert southwest, “know” what I drive, “know” that I play the guitar and “know” that I’m interested in the Bible. I am able to ascertain this from the advertising I see on web pages. I am deluged with offers for guitars, but never offers for snow blowers. I see ads for religiously-themed books and products for my car, which is an unusual model. Occasionally, I will see ads directed at single men, but I suspect that they have my demographics down to such a fine point that they realize ahead of time that I’m not interested in smut or in meeting women in third world countries that hope to land an American sugar daddy.

      It’s scary.

  5. Yes, it is troublesome, and that is why I am letting my family members that I am withdrawing myself from the site, even though I have posted some of the articles I have written and received very good comments. It just is not worth it any more.

    1. That’s about the same conclusion that I reached. There are benefits, but overall, I don’t see Facebook as being worthwhile for my needs.

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